Comics are oftentimes the products of an environment. In the seventies, the martial arts genre became the hottest flavor of Hollywood and looking to cash in on the kung fu craze, Marvel created the Immortal Iron Fist.
After toiling in obscurity as a C-lister for decades. The Living Weapon has been put into the excellent hands of Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker in an epic, mythological run in The Immortal Iron Fist.
Danny Rand, orphaned as a child grew up in the lost city of K’un Lun, became one of the many, many people who’ve carried the mantle of the Iron Fist (I’ll get to it soon). Danny returns to America to his father’s empire in New York. Unbeknownst to him, Orson Randall, one of his many predecessors begins to search for Danny. Danny is invited to a tournament to face other Living Weapons (Enter the Dragon, anyone?)
Iron Fist, like Thor, is rooted in mysticism and mythology. The writing is smart and witty. Fraction and Brubaker’s love of Kung Fu is all over the story. The tournament story arc, in particular, is intense and brutal and the narrative’s focus becomes a lot more focused. Which brings me to the story. Danny’s story parallels between Orson and his father, Wendell. The Orson/Wendell relationship is a standout because Wendell, eager to prove himself worthy as a potential Iron Fist, finds himself at odds with his more experienced mentor. It’s great stuff.
The writing is also fantastic. The banter between Danny and his friends is terrific. It’s hilarious whenever Luke Cage or Misty start cussing and it’s just bleeped out and there’s a great line in Issue #4 where Danny says to Orson: “So then I guess it’s time to see your mighty gun fu” That’s a nice little nod to Hong Kong action cinema.
The artwork is gorgeous, there’s a grit to it which is contrasted by the mystical setting, Danny can take a beating and some of the panels feature some brutal stuff during the tournament. David Aja did a great job on making a cohesive fusion between them.
The collection also features a short story that connects The Immortal Iron Fist and Daredevil, which is also written by Brubaker.
Fraction and Brubaker have changed the perception of Iron Fist with their run and it gave the Living Weapon the recognition it deserved at the time. There’s no such thing as bad characters in comics and in the right hands, it can be amazing. Which The Immortal Iron Fist is. Awesome story. Do check it out.